A SMART, Quiet Train in Store for S.F.'s North Bay

The planned Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART) District trains will not only be quiet (though diesel-powered), but so will the crossings if cities and counties cooperate.

2 minute read

October 10, 2012, 10:00 AM PDT

By Irvin Dawid

The new transit district "is spending $12 million on its train crossings to qualify them as quiet zones, where approaching trains may be exempted from blowing their horns", writes The Press Democrat's Bob Norberg. However, the final word will be had by the individual cities and either Marin or Sonoma Counties as they must "apply for to state and federal regulators for quiet zone designation."

SMART is a 70-mile rail and trail project serving 14 stations from Cloverdale in Sonoma County to the San Francisco-bound ferry terminal in Larkspur, Marin County with service scheduled to begin in late 2015 or early 2016. The track will be shared with Northwestern Pacific Railroad Co. freight trains.

Why designate a train crossing as a 'quiet zone'?

"In usual railroad operations, commute and freight train operators are required to sound the horn 15 to 20 seconds before reaching a crossing, with a pattern of two long blasts, a short blast and a final long blast.

The required decibel level is 96 to 110, loud enough to be heard but below ear-shattering."

The $12 million is going toward providing "special crossing gates and traffic islands that are intended to keep motorists from being able to drive onto the tracks. Only the cities and counties, however, have the authority to apply to the state Public Utilities Commission and the Federal Railroad Administration for quiet zone status."

The FRA Train Horn Rule Fact Sheet provides additional information on the requirements for locomotive engineers to blow the horns and the establishment of a "New Quiet Zone".

Further south in the Bay Area, the 50-mile San Jose to San Francisco Caltrain line is no stranger to residents complaining about train noise, as Palo Alto On-line reported on July 29, 2009 and the Mountain View Voice editorialized the following month.

Thanks to MTC-ABAG Library

Tuesday, October 9, 2012 in The (Sonoma County) Press Democrat

Aerial view of Oceanwide Plaza skyscrapers covered with graffiti tags.

LA’s Abandoned Towers Loom as a “$1.2 Billion Ruin of Global Capital”

Oceanwide Plaza, shuttered mid-construction after its developer filed for bankruptcy, has stood vacant on prime Los Angeles real estate since 2019.

May 21, 2024 - The Architect's Newspaper

Entrance to a drive-through car wash at night with green 'Enter' sign.

Ohio Towns Move to Ban New Car Washes

City officials in northeast Ohio are putting limits on how many car wash facilities can open in their towns.

May 16, 2024 - News 5 Cleveland

Acela train at Wilmington station in Wilmington, Delaware.

The Passenger Rail Revival Is Here

For the first time in decades, multiple rail projects are moving forward that could have a transformative impact on train travel in the United States.

May 21, 2024 - Route Fifty

California Governor Gavin Newsom announcing funding for tiny home shelter project in front of quick-build tiny home shelter unit.

California’s Tiny Home Pledge Still on Paper, One Year Later

A promise to fund 1,200 tiny homes for unhoused residents in four cities as a way to rapidly and cost-effectively provide shelter has yet to yield tangible results, but projects are moving ahead in some cities.

7 hours ago - CALmatters

Residential neighborhood in Colorado with fall foliage and snowy mountains in background.

Colorado Ends Non-Family Occupancy Limits

Local jurisdictions will no longer be able to limit how many unrelated adults can live in a household, a move that supporters say will help lower housing costs and help older adults supplement their incomes and stay in their homes.

May 24 - Strong Towns

A white crosswalk painted by Crosswalk Collective LA in Los Angeles, California.

Guerilla Urbanism Spurs Action From Cities

Rather than take a hostile approach to DIY urbanism, some cities are using guerilla efforts as an opportunity to understand critical infrastructure gaps.

May 24 - Smart Cities Dive

News from HUD User

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Call for Speakers

Mpact Transit + Community

New Updates on PD&R Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.